Manchester United could very well end their six-year long wait for a trophy, as they defeated Nottingham Forest by 5-0 on aggregate to set up EFL Cup final against Newcastle United.
On Wednesday, goals from Anthony Martial and Fred helped Manchester United to seal a 2-0 win at home in Old Trafford. Earlier, they had registered a 3-0 win last week at the City Ground. Jadon Sancho, who returned to the club after an absence of more than three months also got a chance to feature in the match. Manager Erik ten Hag now has an opportunity to clinch his first big success in his debut season with the club. The prestigious club will also be aiming to end their six-year-long trophy drought, having last won the 2017 Europa League under Jose Mourinho.
Despite gaining a dominant win in the first leg, Manchester United still played a strong starting lineup featuring Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane and Casemiro.
Forest though had to replace Jesse Lingard with Emmanuel Dennis after the former sustained an injury during warm-up in a major setback for the club.
The first half was a low-key affair and both sides had their opportunities to score. Dennis was denied a goal after his shot struck his teammate Sam Surridge, while Manchester’s Casemiro’s cross was received by Wout Weghorst, but it hit the post.
At the end of the first half, the scoreline was 0-0.
Martial fired the first goal of the match to give Red Devils a late lead in the 73rd minute. He managed to beat Wayne Hennessy from close range. Then just minutes later, Marcus Rashford latched onto a cross from Bruno Fernandes and Fred got the ball. Fred tapped it into an empty net to double United’s lead in the 76th minute.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was quoted as saying by Sky Sports after the match that the first half was not great for his side and his side’s immediate focus is the Premier League match against Crystal Palace on February 4.
“The first half was not great to be honest. It was professional with how we played, but the tempo was too slow, we did not create chances and we allowed them to create chances. That should not happen. I think they played well, defending compact and we did not find the gaps. The second half was a bit better with more tempo and I think we scored some good goals.”
“We just want to improve every day. I think we have a good squad and we have to demand high standards. If we are not reaching those standards we are not happy. In the first half I was not happy. We are United and when you are a United player you have to match those standards.”
“Of course we are looking forward to facing Newcastle at Wembley. It will be a great final. But it is far away from us now. We’ve got the Premier League first, and Crystal Palace on Saturday,” concluded ten Hag.
Nottingham boss Steve Cooper said, “Congratulations to Manchester United and Newcastle for getting to the final. Good luck to both of them at Wembley.
“The damage was done in the first leg if we are honest. But we have had two great chances in the first half. We have not played particularly well at away grounds at the ‘big six’, but I thought we did a bit better tonight.”
“But the club is on an upward trajectory. Think where we were 12 months ago to where we are now, competing in the Premier League and in semi-finals. We need to take a breath and think ‘we are doing alright here’. We have got to say we are making forward steps, and we have just got to keep working hard,” concluded Cooper.